Monday, February 23, 2009

Why 4 verses (so far) to "The Music. . ."?

My most recent post prior to this one is a report of my attendance at the Nashville Symphony's concert with Riders in the Sky last Thursday. I title it "The Music of Music City -- Verse 4".

The basic title "The Music of Music City" I gave to my second posting on this blog. (First posting is "First Note of a New Song", very appropriate for the start of a blog about Music City a.k.a. Nashville.) It concerns the three nicknames of Nashville and the "why" of each. It concludes with giving the origin of the newest nickname of "Music City". Hopefully, the conclusion hints at the importance of song and music in my life. I should have added that acknowledging this encourages me to give more weight to the "Music City" nickname than I used to.

Several subsequent postings at least mention musical elements of Nashville, at least in passing. And then on Saturday, 24 January, I posted about a Friday afternoon of listening to certain cherished songs on WSM-AM 650, "The Air Castle of the South", and then taking advantage of a free-admission day (thank you again, Ford Foundation!) on that Saturday, to visit the new home of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. While I was considering how the radio station and the museum were among the best-known elements of Nashville and they both had to do with music, I decided to title this posting "The Music of Music City -- Verse 2" and go back to my second post and insert (Verse 1) into its title.

Not long after this I posted about a specific classic country music hit, the song "Kay" released by John Wesley Ryles. And tagged it as "Verse 3" of "The Music of Music City." I wouldn't do so with just any song. This song is ABOUT Music City, and the not-so-pretty side of life in or touched by the music industry. A similar song would be "Murder on Music Row" by Alan Jackson and George Strait. Anyway, for further about this song about Nashville, please read my post on Monday, 2 February.

Now that you know this, dear reader, you may wonder why my report on my experience of the Symphony with Riders in the Sky is "Verse 4". What about my experience just a few evenings earlier of actually going to the Grand Ole Opry?

Well I've several reasons for my selections of the four verses so far, of "the music of Music City". I omit the Opry because everybody and his brother already will think of the world's oldest continuously-broadcast live radio show whenever someone uses the phrase. Therefore, the Opry doesn't need yours truly to trumpet its praises!

Instead, I'd like in describing my experiences of "the music of Music City" to promote the very real if not well-known fact that music in Nashville is much, much more than the radio show, or even country music in general. All sorts of non-country singers and instrumentalists have recorded as well as performed in this city. Great names in rock, folk, pop and other genres. Elvis. . . Dylan. . . Sandy Patti of contemporary Christian. . . .

And I most certainly want the cyber-world (at least that portion who read this blog) to know that music as a great element of this city goes back way before the first broadcast of the Grand Ole Opry (late 1925) or the first recording of a country singer or group (a couple years earlier, if you'll allow me reference to the first known recording of the genre, Ralph Peer's preservings of the artistry of Jimmy Rodgers and of the Carter Family a little east of here in Bristol, Tennessee). Music of "The Athens of the South" -- truly a cultural capital -- is aptly represented by the Nashville Symphony. The first orchestra that I know about here started up in 1920 (there had been "chamber music" groups in town earlier, of course); the Depression did in this early effort to present so-called classical music performed by a large group such as an orchestra. The current Symphony orchestra had its start at the end of World War II. The great Maestro Kenneth Schermerhorn directed it and took it to new heights of fame between his arrival in 1982 and his untimely death in 2005. These "new heights" include major tours to other major cities (Carnegie Hall in the Big Apple being a venue), Grammy Awards (for what the politically-tainted prize may be worth), and the new, state-of-the-art Schermerhorn Symphony Center -- see previous post, the first one of 20 Feb. (This brief history is courtesy of the Symphony's Website.)

And on that Thursday evening -- and NOT for the first time -- the famous Nashville Symphony combined with stars of the famous radio show to present this city a truly superb music treat! At least if the listener is open to a variety of musical styles and genres, as is yours truly.

And I truly reveled in this wonderful treat of Opry stars whom I love performing music and song with an orchestra, an instrumental group whose classical or pop musical offerings I've always loved. Honestly, it will take a lot to top that night of Riders in the Sky with the Nashville Syphony. Oh, and finally, it's appropriate that Verse 4 concerned a quartet, don't you think?

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